New York divorce laws

Marriage is a happy event, while divorce is not. Usually the latter is something that nobody looks forward to, however it does happen. So, read on to get acquainted with the latest divorce laws in NY!

Divorce law in NY

NY has the strictest history of laws in regards to marriage dissolution. The current law was changed in 2010, and then New York became the last state to adopt no-fault divorce. Before that, only fault-based divorce was allowed, and until 1966 the only reason that was granted a divorce was the unfaithfulness.

New York state divorce laws: Types of marriage dissolution

There are two ways to divorce legally in New York. The first is uncontested dissolution of marriage. The pros of this method are:

  • Speed (such divorces are likely to be finished in less than half a year)
  • Price (there is no need to hire a lawyer and therefore it is much cheaper)
  • Possibility to do it on your own (the only task is to fill out the paperwork correctly, and we are here to help).

The other kind is the contested dissolution of marriage. It differs from the first type in terms of procedure, price and time to be finalized. It does not require creating an agreement, so the couple will go to trial to agree on property, finances and childcare. Such divorces often take years to finish and may cost up to $40,000. Thus, we do not advise choosing this method of divorce.

Grounds for divorce in NY

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Based on the method of marriage dissolution, New York divorce law recognizes two kinds of grounds for it: no-fault and fault-based. The former is defined as the ‘irretrievable breakdown,’ meaning that the relationship broke down at least six months ago and therefore cannot be restored. Such reasons for divorce in NY can lead to dissolving the marriage if the other requirements are fulfilled by the partners. To be eligible to choose this reason, the couple must create a written agreement regarding how they will divide their rights and responsibilities after getting divorced (childcare and visitation, paying debts, selling and dividing real estate or other property, etc.). This is the procedural demand of New York state divorce laws. The other is a residency requirement. There are various ways to meet this demand:

  1. Either partner must have lived in the state of New York for at least two years before submitting papers to the court; or
  2. Either partner must have lived in the state of New York for one year and:
  • The marriage occurred here; or
  • The couple lived here after getting married; or
  • The grounds for divorce happened here.

Fault-based grounds mean that the couple must prove one party’s guilt. They include cruelty, abandonment, imprisonment and unfaithfulness. According to NY divorce laws, cruelty means that the initiating party of the divorce has been suffering mentally and/or physically due to the actions of the other party. Remember you cannot divorce based on this ground if the most recent case of cruelty happened more than 5 years ago and you continued to stay together after that. Abandonment is recognized to have happened by NY divorce law if your husband or wife left you or made you move out of the house for at least one year.  Imprisonment is a satisfactory reason for divorce if your partner has been in jail for 3 years or more. However, if they were released 5 years ago or more, New York state divorce law does not approve this situation as suitable for marriage dissolution. One more ground to consider is unfaithfulness. This reason also must be proved to the judge. If it is your reason for divorce, keep in mind that there are certain divorce rules and requirements in NY:

  • You must not forgive your partner and have any sexual relationship after the case of unfaithfulness
  • You must not be unfaithful to your partner
  • You must not provoke your partner to be unfaithful
  • You must not wait: If more than 5 years has passed after the case of unfaithfulness, the divorce law of NY would not accept such ground for dissolution.

There are also two more reasons to dissolve the marital relationship: judgement of separation and agreement of separation. The first one is the decree that states that you and your partner have been living apart for a year or more. If this period occurred and no rule of judgement was violated, you can get your marriage dissolved.

The second is an agreement created by the partners and verified by a notary. Preparing this agreement requires a lawyer since it should be done in accordance with the strict guidelines of divorce laws in New York. If you fail to follow them while creating the agreement, it will be considered invalid.

Divorce process in NY

The divorce procedure in NY starts with checking whether either partner is eligible to file for marriage dissolution in the state of NY. The exact requirements are mentioned in the previous section of this guide. If neither partner can fulfil the demands of the divorce laws in New York State, the couple will have to wait until the enough time has passed.

Along with the residency demands, the couple also must create a mutual agreement for uncontested dissolution. Doing this will make your divorce process in NY easier than if you choose to settle your disagreements in court.

After taking these preparatory steps, we suggest that you fill out the questionnaire on our website to create the document kit for filing online. This tool will save you a great deal of money since you don’t have to hire a lawyer to use our tool. When the papers are ready, you will receive them to your e-mail and can print and sign them. The notary verification is also required before submitting the papers to the clerk’s office.

The next divorce steps in NY include filing and paying for the court’s services. These steps are of crucial importance since here you will get the index number for your case allowing the judge to review your file.

Having registered the document kit, you will need to notify your spouse about it. The divorce process in NY involves two ways of informing your spouse: mail delivery or in-person delivery (that is usually done by a sheriff). When this is done, the responding party has up to one month to give their response. After that, the judge invites the couple for a short audience. New York divorce law has a waiting period of at least 6 weeks for an uncontested dissolution. When the waiting period is over, you will receive the decree that finalizes your divorce.

States divorce law